Go Away With … Julie Chu

Julie Chu Sochi 21629 retouch

By Jae-Ha Kim
Tribune Content Agency
January 28,  2014

Julie Chu is the forward for the U.S. Women’s National Ice Hockey Team. A seasoned hockey veteran, the Harvard graduate is proud to be representing the United States at the Sochi Olympics, which will be her fourth Winter Games. Chu, 31 — who already has won a bronze and two silver medals — is hoping to win a gold medal this year. Fans may keep track of Chu — who also is the brand ambassador for Bounty Paper Towels’ Olympic campaign — via her Twitter account.

Q. Which was your favorite Olympics?

A. It’s hard to say, but Salt Lake City might have a slight edge because it was my first Olympic experience. Anytime something’s the first, it stands out. I didn’t get to see much of the city, but my memories of Salt Lake City and the Olympic experience are rosy and amazing, and I’m just appreciative to have been a part of the team.

Q. What about Turin, Italy, and Vancouver, British Columbia, for the 2006 and 2010 Winter Olympics?

A. I did get a different cultural experience at the Turin Games. We went there before the Olympics to train and there were a few days where we got to just hop in a cab and see the main city center. The food was great, as you can imagine. Everything was so fresh. A few years later, I got to backpack through Italy for a couple weeks. It was amazing. I’m a huge traveler and think it’s so much fun visiting new places. The ability to experience other cultures and taste different types of food is everything to me. I like mingling with the locals, if at all possible. Things like that are special to me. I would go back to Italy in a heartbeat!

Q. How cautious are you when it comes to dining out in other countries?

A. If I’m traveling for the team, the places we travel to for competitions are pretty safe food-wise. We don’t get to go to a lot of what Americans consider exotic places. We’ll go to places like Canada, Sweden and Finland. If we get a night off, we might go out to eat and we’re not really that concerned about the food there. We did go to China for a world championship. I’m three-quarter Chinese, so I was excited about that. But we were a little more hesitant to eat from street vendors there and stuck to eating the food that was provided for our team. But if I’m not traveling for hockey, I’ll try anything once!

Q. What was the first trip you took as a child?

A. We went to Disney World in Florida with family. I remember it poured on us and we bought Mickey Mouse ponchos. We still got soaking wet, but we had so much fun! Moments like that stand out. I was about five or six years old, so getting rained on just added to all the fun.

Q. When you’re traveling for fun, at around what point do you get homesick?

A. I usually am not going long enough to get homesick! (Laughs) But on that European trip, I backpacked around Italy for two weeks and then spent a week in Greece and had a great time. But by the end of that third week, after having bopped around to different locations every couple of days, I was ready to be back home.

Q. What preconceived notions did you have about some of the places that you visited that proved to be wrong?

A. When we were in the northern part of Italy, we got this amazing pesto pasta, which we ate all the time! Then in the second week, we were in the southern part of Italy and tried to order the same thing. But they told us that they don’t do pesto during that season in the south. I thought certain foods would be available all over. It was fine. There were so many other delicious things to try.

Q. Are you thinking past the Sochi Games to the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea?

A. (Laughs) For me, I always try to live in the moment as much as possible. My goal is to do well in Sochi.

Q. What are some of your favorite areas to visit?

A. There was this area called Cinque Terre in Italy that I love. Montreal is a great city. Munich, Germany, was a lot of fun and really cool. If you think of a city with personality and great culture, Munich’s one of them.

Q. Besides Disney World, where are some places that you have traveled to with your family?

A. I got a chance to go on a cruise around Tahiti and (the French Polynesian) islands. We did that for my parents’ 25th anniversary. Waking up in paradise was wonderful. Then we went to Costa Rica for my parents’ 30th anniversary. They do their anniversaries right!

Q. Where would you like to go that you have never been to before?

A. I haven’t spent much time in Asia. I would love to travel to so many places, starting with India, Thailand and Vietnam. I’d like to go to Australia. I’d like to check out New Zealand and Bali (in Indonesia). Those are kind of at the top of my list. My dad did some business in South Africa and I heard so many stories. I’d love to get to Cape Town one day.

Q. What is your guilty pleasure when you’re on the road?

A. Going out for really nice meals. And nice meals to me don’t mean the fanciest, most expensive restaurants. I like finding special places with really amazing food, starting with an appetizer and ending with dessert. You can’t forget the dessert!


© 2014 JAE-HA KIM


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